Being Human

I recently went to the doctor and filled the usual questionnaires and disclaimers. One of the questions I always hesitate to answer is “race” (or “ethnicity”).

What am I? White? Latino? Hispanic? South American? South European? So I answered “Human”. The doctor chuckled and said: “that looks accurate”.

I was raised under the belief that most of my family came from Italy and Spain. For some reason, I had a small bias towards things Italian. Perhaps because I had the privilege and fortune of meeting my paternal grandfather (who was Italian), and about whom I wrote before.

Fast forward many years and genetic studies are now a commodity. So I decided to take the test. And I almost forgot about it because it takes a few weeks.

And then I got the email: “your results are ready!” …

I’m glad I answered “human” because my genes are quite a mix:


Iberian and Italian, are no surprise…but the rest? Balkan? (likely greek). North African! British! Native American! West African!

I’m a man of the world!

Not entirely surprised with the Native American and West African. I was told that some of my dad’s mother side lineage came from Brazil. Not many details were offered, but…

An estimated 4.9 million slaves from Africa were brought to Brazil during the period from 1501 to 1866


Slave women were also used by freed men as concubines or common-law wives and often worked for them in addition as household labor, wet nurses, cooks, and peddlers.

So, perhaps some slave blood flows through me…

The Balkan mix is also not super surprising. Sicily, the ancestral place I associated myself with (although I’m hesitant to call it like that anymore), was widely colonized by Greeks, Albanians, and half western world.

The North African is also not at all unexpected. That’s close enough. My grandfather told me he would sail to Tunisia often for trading.

What is really surprising is the British/Irish component… not really sure where it comes from. I have no clue.

I could hypothesize…was this ancestor a “he” or a “she”? was he a slave trader? Was he a mercenary fighting in Spain or in Italy? Or maybe was she in someone’s household? Is it just someone in North Spain (an area close to England and Ireland)? That remains a little bit of an enigma.

My parents have not done the test, so I don’t know which part came from where, but that looks like a nice follow-up project!

Also, now another project is brewing in my mind: visit every place I’ve got ancestry.








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